Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A hiccup

We were going to have Christmas dinner at Duffy's Steak and Lobster House, a Key West restaurant that I'm unaccountably fond of. It's fine, standard fare, but I think the reason why it makes me so happy is its location. Duffy's is a light green/white structure on one of the main drags, and it was one of my first "landmarks" when I first began going to Key West, decades ago.

I had Cubs champion baseball caps for Henry and Reg. I, of course, would be wearing one of my many Cubs shirts and a holly, jolly time would be had by our little group of 3.

That was before Cynthia. Cynthia is a 60-something local who worked at a coffee house/internet cafe a few blocks from the joint where Reg tends bar. Her home was foreclosed on sometime in 2015 and her furniture is in storage. Lately she was the houseguest of a couple and the three of them got in a spat and they threw her out. She came in to the bar each day and down a few before retiring to her rented room. Reg told me that she was discontented but hopeful that she would find an apartment she could afford.

All of a sudden, Cynthia stopped coming in. None of the other bar patrons knew her well so no one could tell Reg what happened to her. Finally she shot him a text -- she was in the hospital, recovering from a stroke. He visited her in the hospital and found her very frightened. She let her boss know that she had lost partial use of her left side and was told that they couldn't afford to hold her job for her until she could perform her duties again. With no job, she had no way to pay for her rented room.

Reg and Henry took her in. She moved into their house on Wednesday and I arrived Thursday.

Things are bad for a woman when the only one she can turn to is her bartender.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, we had a summit at Duffy's. I was glad because I at least got to eat lunch there (seafood salad). I gave Reg and Henry their Cub caps then because, well, I didn't have one for Cynthia and I didn't want her to feel left out.

Her happiness and comfort was especially important to Reg. Cynthia was embarrassed about her stiff left arm and hand and her walker and wouldn't want to dine out with us on the 25th, and the thought of her left alone and behind on Christmas night was just unacceptable to him.

Reg's actual turkey and carrots
We had our assignments: Reg would make a turkey and his fabulous glazed carrots. Henry would prepare the potatoes and pick up a pecan pie for dessert. I would come up with a small gift for her. Something inexpensive so she wouldn't feel embarrassed, but holiday-themed to put her in the spirit of the season. (I decided on a gift bag with chocolate Santas and coconut wreathes and candy canes, etc).

So Christmas Eve, Henry and I went to church and said goodnight, knowing what we would do on Christmas Day.

The only flaw in our plan was Cynthia. A friend she knew longer than she did Reg invited her to a home-cooked brunch. Reg was thrilled because it would get her out of the house when he was cooking. However, Cynthia had too many bloody marys and returned sloshed. She lay down "for a minute" but was lost to the world and never joined us for dinner.

Still, this story tells you what good people my friends are. They are giving a woman a private room with her own bath for free simply because she needs it. I'm very proud of them and their Christmas spirit.

PS JUST CALL ME WRONGY MCWRONGERSON. I found out it wasn't an old friend who invited her over for bloody marys on Christmas morning. It was an elderly LGBT support group that the hospital introduced to Cynthia when she was in the hospital. They have helped her arrange rides to follow up doctor appointments, etc., as well as giving her a few cups of holiday cheer.

No comments:

Post a Comment